Thursday, June 24, 2010

In so many words.

For the longest time I agonized about how to say certain things. How do you ask a boy if he likes you? How do you ask for freaky things in bed? How do you tell your friends, when it's relevant or it's just gnawing at you, that your love life is a little different? How can you possibly communicate these concepts?

The answer, I'm finding is, "in so many words." Just say it. So how do you find out if a boy likes you? Turns out the magic words are: "[Boy], do you like me?" There's no trick to it, there's no secret code; the way to say a difficult thing is simply to say it.

What I was really asking, of course, is how I could say these things without taking any risks. I didn't want to know how to tell if a boy liked me, I wanted him to like me. I wanted to know some magical way to ask that the answer would always be yes. My pretended difficulty in asking was really a difficulty in hearing the truth.

There were two separate difficulties within that: the fear of opening Schrödinger's box, and the fear of asking wrong. The first fear is real, but useless. It's the feeling that "right now there's a 50% chance that he likes me, so I can enjoy the feeling of being theoretically 50% liked! If I find out for sure, he could say "no" and the waveform will collapse and I'll have 0% of a boy!" I was so afraid of finding a dead cat that I never looked in the box and ended up with no cat at all.

The second fear, that of asking wrong, was even harder to get over. This is the idea--the hallucination, really--that there's a way to phrase the question that will make a "no" into a "aww, you're really sweet but I don't feel that way right now, but things are still developing"; and another way that will make a "no" into a "no way, not ever, how could you even ask, in fact I hate you." Or worse yet, that the way I asked could somehow in itself make the difference between "yes" and "no."

But the truth is, I think, that people aren't really that subtly and dramatically influenced by my phrasing or timing. People's opinions aren't subatomic particles; they aren't irreparably changed by being observed. Even a clumsy question will get a sweet response out of a sweet guy, and there's definitely no remotely honest way to ask that will turn a "no" into a "yes." The question is simply "do you like me?" and the answer has already been formed in his mind and all your previous interactions.

The search for the magical phrase is over. The search for the way to suss things out without asking asking is finished. The way to say a thing is to simply say it, and whether things go your way or not (sometimes really not), at least you know what the hell is going on.

22 comments:

  1. I think it also helps to keep it very clear in your own mind that you aren't doing anything wrong by asking. If you ask, the worst thing that can happen is they'll be rude about it-- in which case they're the one who should be embarassed.

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  2. "You can beat the snot out of me and make me cry on the 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th, and possibly on the morning on the 15th, depending on long I'm stuck in traffic. And I'd like it to hurt, but nothing that will put me in a hospital bed or make people hand me too much domestic violence literature. Are these terms acceptable to you?" Heh.

    Seriously, though, you've pretty much hit it. If you never communicate interest the The Sad Dance Of The Waffling can go on forever. Express general interest, gauge reaction, then express direct interest. Expect some no's along with the (preferred) yes answers, and move on, one way or the other. Even a very low sucess rate is still more enjoyable (and more worthy of your time) than waffling forever. I was around 25 before I figured that out, and I'm pretty sure I missed out on ALL kinds of fun in college and right after because of it...

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  3. Anon - One of those revelations that came sadly late in my life is that nice people generally aren't on a hair-trigger. Out in the real world, "not setting them off" should not be a necessary relationship skill.

    Jack - Are you just posting my Facebook messages to the blog now? :p

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  4. LMAO. Nah... I figured I'd change the dates and add the traffic part to 'fictionalize' it a little.

    Okay, I admit it, I was lazy and didn't even change the dates. I just made up the part about the traffic.

    But I'll be sure to check facebook for messages later today...

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  5. A relative of mine once said, "If you want the cookie, you've got to ask for the cookie."

    I still have sometimes have issues with my perception of what the other person will think of me for asking certain questions. but that part is on me... if I don't ask, I'm being disingenuous to myself.

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  6. Holy hell do I want a cat right now.

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  7. Bruno -- even if it's dead?

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  8. If I find out for sure, he could say "no" and the waveform will collapse and I'll have 0% of a boy!

    Great post, and I LOVE this sentence!

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  9. Even if I didn't think the "Awareness Rising" poster sounds like an insufferable prick, I'd wonder how that post is connected to Holly's post. Or maybe Anonymous thinks Holly's a misandrist?

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  10. Alternatively, Holly is now attracting MRA spambots. Which would be worse, I wonder?

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  11. Bruno - I thought you had a kitty! Is your kitty okay? :(

    (Or am I just particularly bad at metaphor here?)


    I'm not sure whether to just delete the anon, but then I'd have to delete Bruno and Labrat to keep the thread making sense, so I guess I'll leave him up as a curio.

    Also, the provided link suggests that you follow up the hateful misandrist slur of "There's too much testosterone in this room" with the witty reply of "Yeah, alright, I guess there wasn’t not enough testosterone in the room to take care of this until I got here."

    Pretty awesome.

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Holly: I have a kitty, but not a cat in your metaphorical sense.

    Anonymous: Welcome back. Go away again?

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  14. Awareness Rising guy -
    I should be your natural ally. I think it's a bad thing that most of the gender vs. gender legal scenarios I can think of favor women. I don't believe that there is a lot of anti-woman bias in hiring, promotion, or pay, but I think there is significant pro-woman bias in many traditionally male areas brought on by lawsuit fears. I think marriage as it's currently implemented in American law favors the stereotypical woman over the stereotypical man.

    But the random spam, along with the rudeness of the trolls, seriously annoys me. It makes me think about how I don't want to be like you guys, and I want to talk about these issues less because I don't want to be associated with you. Holly isn't here saying women are superior. Get polite, or shut up.

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  15. Mousie: Heh. Maybe we have more in common than I thought. My own background is growing up watching in some horror as my stepmother used both social mores and the legal system to manipulate and I would argue abuse my father, so I agree with you wholly there...

    It's just almost everyone who seems to share this belief makes me want to mace them and run away.

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  16. LabRat - When Carrie Nation was busting up bars with a hatchet, screaming that she'd save the patrons from a drunkard's fate, I bet a lot of people who thought drunkeness was a bad idea felt like I feel about MRA.

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  17. Mousie100 wrote :

    "I should be your natural ally. I think it's a bad thing that most of the gender vs. gender legal scenarios I can think of favor women. I don't believe that there is a lot of anti-woman bias in hiring, promotion, or pay, but I think there is significant pro-woman bias in many traditionally male areas brought on by lawsuit fears. I think marriage as it's currently implemented in American law favors the stereotypical woman over the stereotypical man."

    OK. Then help combat it.

    I don't think the 'Awareness Rising' article is unreasonable at all. It is quite fair, and merely calls on men to start combating things such as what you described.

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  18. When I was in high school, there was this guy. He didn't go to my school, but we met up most afternoons at a gaming store. He was gorgeous, and funny, and sweet, and just all-around awesome, and I kind of obsessed on him a wee bit.

    I was having a party, and all my friends were invited, and I totally wanted this guy to be there. I wrote him a note with the invitation on it in Spanish class, and in the corner I scrawled, "I like you. You can ignore this if it makes you uncomfortable." I folded up the piece of paper into a nice tidy bundle and carried it with me all day.

    He was at the game store, and he gave me a lift home, as he often did. When we got there, I flipped the note into his lap and ran like hell. Not figuratively.

    The next day I happened to overhear him mention to a third party that he was going out with his girlfriend that weekend. Alas.

    He came to the party, though.




    (... also at this point we've been married for nearly ten years.)

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  19. Anonymous @ 12:27 - You apparently missed or just decided to ignore my whole point.

    The unrelated link spam is right here in this thread, June 25th at 12:51; the quality of the linked material is irrelevant because the subject is irrelevant to this post. It's spam. There's also been a lot of very ugly MRA trolling at this site recently. Right here in front of me. And if I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with spammers and trolls to make a stand on this topic, I'm going to forget it and find some better opportunity.

    (To the regulars: I guess even my tone deafness has a limit.)

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  20. Anon - Do you realize you're posting this up on a post that's all about how I'm attracted to men and want to be honest with them? OH THE MISANDRY!

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